Photo by Reilly Moreland
JV Plus Changes
Freshman Molly Hogan pencil jumps into lane one to begin JV swim practice. Bobbing up and down, the nine JV plus swimmers watch coach Ali Erickson write down the set exclusively for their lane. The rest of the JV team swims in the other five lanes doing their own sets.
These nine girls make up the JV plus swim team, a middle ground for potential varsity swimmers. They swim both JV practices and varsity practices on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as Saturday mornings with varsity.
The JV Plus team swims more difficult sets than the rest of JV during that practice. The girls are unable to work up to the varsity team this season, according to head coach Rob Cole, as the team is already full, but if the girls put in effort in the off-season the chance that they will make varsity next year is very high.
Prior to this year, nearly half of the 30 JV girls were part of the JV plus team. This year, Cole planned on making the plus team more focused for experiencing what varsity is like in bits. Cole wanted a smaller group of girls to show them that they are being looked at for the varsity level.
“We have kids that maybe are good enough to be on the [varsity] team, but their endurance level and how much effort they put into the off-season is not giving them an opportunity,” Cole said.
According to Cole, it would not be safe to throw the nine JV plus swimmers in the pool with a low endurance level because their bodies aren’t used to it. However, by being on JV plus, the girls are given the opportunity with varsity part time on Tuesday, Thursday and all of Saturday.
Hogan and freshman Martha Saferstein quickly realized the amount of work and effort required to be at the varsity level when practicing with the varsity squad. Swimming continuously, the JV plus lane tries not to stop during each set. The intensity of varsity exceeds JV because there is no sitting out — every lap missed has a consequence like push ups.
“Swimming with the Varsity team helps push me farther to swim faster and harder since no one ever stops,” Hogan said. “I want to make varsity next year, so by swimming more and working harder to get better times I think I can do that.”
Some of the girls strive to reach the varsity level while others, like Saferstein, are less concerned with what team they are on. Instead Saferstein focuses on the challenge of swimming extensive sets and likes the aspect of being in between the two teams.
“Being on Varsity is a lot of work and seems very intense,” Saferstein said. “I swim more just for the exercise and try to get the best times possible.”
Saferstein likes the fit of JV plus giving her a competitive place to swim, since the girls will swim in both JV and Varsity meets. Because they are selected, the plus swimmers feel motivated by their skill being acknowledged, further pushing them toward making it to the varsity level.
Freshmen on Varsity
After losing 11 seniors last year, 12 of the 29 Varsity Girl’s Swim Team members are now freshmen. By having so many new swimmers the entire dynamic of the team has changed, according to junior captain Emma Linscott. The upperclassmen hold a stronger sense of leadership as they guide the freshmen to understand how the program works.
However, Head Coach Rob Cole’s coaching style hardly changes when he has a group of freshmen this big. He has high expectations that the upperclassmen will show them how to swim the correct sets and help them out when needed.
The dynamic of the group is always changing with how many returning members there are, but no one is treated differently, according to Cole. The dynamic shifts towards the upperclassmen delegating how the team works and what Cole’s expectations are.
“Everybody has the same expectation on the team,” Cole said. “All of the girls are putting in the same commitment, and I expect the same out of freshmen as I do the seniors.”
Linscott says that having 12 freshmen on the team is not necessarily a bad thing. The freshmen rely heavily on the upperclassmen to know what to do and how to do it like when to show up to practice and what to eat before a meet.
“Coach Cole writes different sets on the board and usually the freshmen have no idea what that means, so we just have to help them get the hang of it,” Linscott said.
Freshmen Ashleigh Espinoza says that swimming against girls who have been to state many times is the most intimidating part. This is the first time when they are swimming against each other in order to make it to state while also trying to get the most points possible.
Only the top three in each event end up going to state. The upperclassmen help them out by letting them know that Cole sometimes will put two girls in the same event during a meet just to race each other, according to Linscott.
Going into tryouts Espinoza had a good idea that she was going to make varsity based on the times that she had been swimming on her club team. During the first meet on Saturday, Espinoza got her first state cut for the 100 meter freestyle with a time of 56.18 seconds.
Freshmen Lucy Smith was intimidated going into tryouts even with her older sister, Izzie, being on the team. Smith said that now getting into the season the upperclassmen are actually really helpful and show them a good example of what Cole expects.
“The upperclassmen really help me understand what Rob is trying to say,” Smith said. “It was overwhelming going into it but having them there to tell us what to do really helps.”
Linscott and the other upperclassmen make sure that the freshmen are aware of everything that is happening, whether that is what time to be at practice on Monday morning to whether or not they are riding a bus to the meet. Linscott likes having the sense of responsibility that she hasn’t had before.